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The Rahbani Brothers Biography

Part 5: Baalbeck, theater, television and cinema:
When the Rahbani brothers presented the mythical Baalabakya project to the Baalbeck organization in 1961, they were asked to change it to dabka and likewise type of music because, according to the panel, the one they had written had nothing to do with traditional folklore. But Assy refused the suggestion and replied that mythology is folklore and it was produced he and Mansour wanted. Needless to say, the response was astounding. It was performed later in other countries and the critics considered it an important international work.
In 1962 Jisr Elamar was performed in Baalbeck and Damascus, followed by the Return of the Soldiers operetta on the stage of the Capitol theater. Another operetta was performed in 1963 titled The Night and the Lantern on the Casino Du Liban stage. In that year the brothers rented an office in which they used to write their projects, however after they formed the Lebanese Traditional Troupe which Esharif was responsible of, they had to move to a bigger office in Hersh Elkafoory, Badaro. The office was not the only place in which they worked, they used to also write at Assy's house or at the family house especially during times of the war when it was hard to reach the office.
In the early 60's, Jain Abu Jowda, the head at that Telivzyon Libnan Walmashreq TV channel asked them to produce a project that would play on the launch day of the new channel. The negotiations didn't work because the television executives didn't agree to the brothers' demands. Abu Jawda told Assy that he negotiate like a diplomat and he should be serving his country as an ambassador. Assy replied by saying that he is his people's ambassador to art and that his diplomacy is to make works that won't disappoint them. The response made Abu Jawda agree to his demands and so they made Aleswara. After the great success it made, the network asked the brothers to make more projects, but they declined because they didn't want to spoil their audience by making a lot of works on television which may result in getting the audience from going to the theater, which was their main activity. The Rahbani brothers continued to make television projects once in a while including Dafater Ellayl, Layali Esa'ed, Dhay'et Elaghani, Elquds fel Bal and other Christmas and Eastern programs. They also wrote television series like Esma W'Nasib and Men Youm Lyoum both starred Huda and were successes in many Arab countries. Other projects were made for the Jordanian television as well.
The Rahbani brothers were asked to participate in Alanwar festival in 1964, and they made Rings for Sale which attracted 10 thousand the first night and 11 thousand the second. In 1965 the Pinwheels was performed with Sabah and Wadi Esafi in the lead, and in the same year they prepared a concert for Fairuz at Beiteddine.
It was also in 1965 that Raja Eshourbajy, a friend of the Rahbani brothers, suggested that they should work in the cinema, and the idea interested Assy and he was convinced. They met with their advisor Kamal Etelmesany, an Egyptian artist living in Lebanon and they started working on it. They were interested in porting one of their theater plays to film. At that time, Youssef Chahine, the acclaimed Egyptian film maker, arrived in Lebanon and he met with them, and he agreed to work with them and introduced them to the film producer Nader Elatassy. They all agreed to port Rings for Sale. Even though what was spent on the film was trice what the budget was prospected to be, and that the film wasn't financially successful, the public success and the experience made the brothers go ahead with two other films, Safarbarlek and Bent Elharess, both directed by Henry Barakat.
In 1967, the Eetani brothers offered the Rahbani brothers to make two projects every year, one for spring and the other for winter at the Piccadilly theater. And so it was that they made a project for the summer festival of Baalbeck or the Arz festival, another for the Damascus one, and then a play on the Piccadilly theater in Beirut that used to be performed for a number of months. The first play on the Piccadilly was Hala W'Elmalek and Fairuz's performance is said to have been incredible.

For more information on the plays and films, check the articles section.

  • The Lebanese television:
    During the time Lebanon used to have one television station called Shareket Altelivezyon Alloubnania which was established in 1959 at Talet Elkhayat in Beirut, a test broadcast in black and white began in 1962 from a new station called Shareket Telivezyon Loubnan W'al Mashreq and it drew a great following.

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